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Out on the open moor, Algy discovered a fascinating pool, surrounded by a ring of thin ice which was floating in the air, a little way above the level of the water. He stopped to study this unusual phenomenon, and while he was sitting quietly in the winter sunshine, testing the ice gingerly with his feet, a black-faced sheep happened to wander by. Algy greeted the sheep politely, but he was disappointed to find that the sheep was much more interested in studying its own fine reflection in the pool than in talking to him.

Out on the open moor, Algy discovered a fascinating pool, surrounded by a ring of thin ice which was floating in the air, a little way above the level of the water. He stopped to study this unusual phenomenon, and while he was sitting quietly in the winter sunshine, testing the ice gingerly with his feet, a black-faced sheep happened to wander by. Algy greeted the sheep politely, but he was disappointed to find that the sheep was much more interested in studying its own fine reflection in the pool than in talking to him.

Algy apologises for his absence from Tumblr during the past week. He has been exceptionally busy helping his assistant finish his latest children’s book: he will have some exciting news about that tomorrow 🙂

Algy flew into the woodland, to a spot where the trees enclosed a beautiful lochan which formed a perfect mirror. Concealing himself in a straggly heather bush near a bed of water lilies, Algy gazed out at the water and the reflections of the trees, thinking of all his human friends in these deeply troubled times, and especially of his friends in France and Germany. In the peace and calm of the West Highland woodlands, he whispered these verses by the poet John Keats, for all his friends whose souls are wrapped in gloom just now:

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses and the last verse from the poem To Hope by the early 19th century English poet John Keats.]

Algy fluttered over to a small, stunted birch tree that was overhanging the water, and made himself comfortable among the mass of twiggy branches and wee green leaves. It was so quiet and peaceful by the lochan that Algy soon began to doze, but suddenly he heard a sound that made him start. A frog had jumped into the water – Plop! – from the rock where Algy had been perching just a little while ago; it inevitably reminded him of that most famous of all Japanese haiku:

The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.

[Furu ike ya               
kawazu tobikomu 
mizu no oto]

[Algy is quoting the famous haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Bashô.]         

On yet another summer’s day of dense mist, wind and rain, Algy made his way down to one of the wee pools in the quiet burn, to see whether the tiddlers had returned. The last time he passed by this spot he couldn’t see any of the tiny fish, but he was relieved to discover that they were back again today, darting in and out of the weeds. Everything was exceedingly wet, and very soon Algy was wet too… But he liked to watch the tiddlers playing, so he tried to ignore the water creeping up his legs and seeping under his feathers. The cold dampness of it all reminded him of a short poem by Amy Lowell:

Cold, wet leaves
Floating on moss-coloured water  
And the croaking of frogs—
Cracked bell-notes in the twilight.

It had seemed like twilight all day today, under the heavily overcast sky and Scotch mist, and everything was undoubtedly cold and wet, including the floating leaves, but although Algy listened carefully, he could hear no croaking of frogs. In fact there was almost no sound at all, except the ever-present wind and the occasional muted call of another bird.

If you are in one of those places suffering from drought or excessive heat, then Algy dedicates this post to you 🙂

[Algy is quoting the poem The Pond by the early 20th century American poet Amy Lowell.]

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